Chatting With Jake Butt, Wolverine

Submitted by Ace on February 24th, 2012 at 11:17 AM


Pickerington (OH) North TE Jake Butt visited Ann Arbor for the weekend to beat all other weekends, though he managed to resist making a commitment all the way until Sunday, thus becoming the seventh of the eight prospects to pledge over the weekend. I know, what a stick in the mud. I caught up with Jake last night to discuss his decision, the coaches, his bond with his future teammates, and more:

ACE: What made you decide that last weekend was the right time to commit?

JAKE: Oh, man. I've been trying to tell myself for the longest time that I was gonna wait, but I've been up to campus a few times, got to go there, see the campus, see the academic side, got to meet Shane Morris, saw Taco [Charlton] up there. It's the #14 university in the world and with all those commits I just wanted to go home, sleep on it, and just make sure I felt the same way the next morning that I did the night before. I woke up feeling so excited about the experience that I just had to hop on board with those guys.

ACE: Did it make a difference at all seeing six other guys commit during the same weekend?

JAKE: Of course. I think there's already eight guys committed in the [ESPN] top 150 in the nation. It's something crazy. You want to be a part of that. Earlier today we were on ESPNU's Recruiting Nation show; what recruit wouldn't want to be a part of that?

ACE: What else set Michigan apart from the other schools you were looking at?

JAKE: Academics and playing time. They're the #14 university in the world and also they're really low on tight ends right now, because they don't really use them that much in the offense they're running, but once Shane comes in and Denard leaves they're going to a more pro-style offense and they're going to need tight ends. There's really only the two that they have right now, then Khalid Hill and me coming in for our class, so if I keep working I expect to get significant playing time.

ACE: Did you talk to the coaches more on your visit about your role in the offense?

JAKE: Yeah. They've got two different tight ends, a 'Y' back and a 'U' back. A 'Y' back is a guy that's more on the line and a 'U' back is a guy that's off the line. As of right now they said I'm the only guy that can play both. They've got Khalid, who's going to be more of a 'U' back, they've got another guy [Devin Funchess] who's more of a 'U' back, and a guy [A.J. Williams] who's a 'Y' back; there no true fit, really, for both, and they said I'm that guy right now for them, and that's huge that I can play either/or.

ACE: You talked about being up there and being able to meet Shane and being up there with Taco, from the same hometown. How much of a factor is it that it looks like you guys as a group are already so tight?

JAKE: That's a huge factor. You want that with any type of team. Shane's a great guy, he's been recruiting all these guys and I expect him to land at least a couple more for us too. It's huge being able to know that your future teammates, you're already getting to start to build a relationship with them. Me and Khalid, we both being tight ends, I'm sure there's a little competition between us, but he's a real cool guy. Of course Shane is going to be my quarterback some day, so getting to know him is big too.

ACE: Now you have to turn around next season and play Central, Taco's squad. What's it going to be like playing against a future teammate?

JAKE: It's going to be a great experience. Taco's a great player, so getting up there and getting to size each other up, he's going to be playing D-end at Michigan, hopefully the coaches are able to come down and watch us a little bit. It should be a battle. His team's got us the last two years, though we had them this year, but next year I'm telling you we will pull that one out.

ACE: I'm sure you guys won't be talking smack or anything like that...

JAKE: Oh, you know we will, we will, though.

ACE: What set the coaching staff apart from the other coaches you came across during the recruiting process?

JAKE: They just got their stuff together, it's unbelievable. The attention that they manage to give you one-on-one during the whole entire visit, it's just unbelievable how they can do that. Spending a whole day, not only with Coach Ferrigno, but Coach Borges and Coach Hoke, too—I had about an hour-and-a-half meeting with each of them. Some of it's about football, some of it's about life, just getting to know me, getting to know my parents. They're all just great people. The way Coach Hoke coaches is the way anyone would want to be coached.

ACE: How is that specifically?

JAKE: I use the story... during the Ohio State-Michigan game—we actually asked them about this up there—when the punter muffed the snap and he came off to the sideline we saw [Coach Hoke] put his arm around the punter and he said something to him. Me and my dad didn't know what he said, but he actually told the punter, he said, "Now how many snaps have you taken in your career?" And [Will Hagerup] said, "I'd guess about 5,000." He's like, "And how many have you muffed?" The punter said, "None." And he said, "Have you ever been to Vegas?" The punter looked at him all weird and said, "No." "Well, in Vegas, it's all about probability, and I like my chances in a 1-in-5,000 chance. You've got 5,000 more snaps before you muff another punt." Some coaches would be really jawing at him or really angry at him for muffing it, but he just picked him up a little bit; [Hoke] said knew we were going to need him later in the game punting for us again. That attitude, you just have to respect it.

ACE: What about Coach Borges and Coach Ferrigno, what set those guys apart?

JAKE: Ferrigno is just a real calm guy, but he's a great guy at the same time. I got to meet his family and everything. Just the way he talks about me, he talks so highly about his program; they're also like a family. All the coaches and recruits are giving each other hugs and everything, so it just brings you closer to them. I spent about an hour-and-a-half talking with Ferrigno, and we talked about my film, he's just a real honest guy, and the same thing with Borges, too.

ACE: I'm sure it was probably a little tough not to just commit on the spot with all the other recruits committing there.

JAKE: Oh, yeah. (laughs) It was pretty tough.

ACE: If you had to boil down why you chose Michigan into a few words, what would they be?

JAKE: I'd say the better question is, why would you not choose Michigan?



February 24th, 2012 at 12:25 PM ^

Thank you. It took a while to get used to doing this, and for a long time—as I'm sure you all could tell—I had a relatively consistent set of questions that I'd ask recruits. I was pretty much reading off a script. Now that (1) I know all those questions by heart and (2) I'm more used to the ebb and flow of the average interview, I think the quality of these has taken off. Glad to hear that people seem to agree.

It also helps—a lot—to be talking to guys who I've developed a relationship with, and Michigan is obviously going after a lot of bright, articulate, and engaging players. Makes my job much, much easier.


February 24th, 2012 at 1:36 PM ^


First off, thanks for all of your hard work with these interviews and everythign else. You've definitely come into your element in these interviews and it shows- keep it up!

I've been curious about this for awhile now, but I'm wondering whether your relationships with these recruits will translate into more access/interviews/what have you down the road as they become players and mature and matriculate through the program? Will you keep in touch with them before/during/after the season/s? Is this something you or Brian have considered in the long-term?


February 24th, 2012 at 2:48 PM ^

I'm sure I'll keep in touch with some of these guys, but the problem is that once they're on campus, media access is restricted and you have to go through the SID. Talking to a couple of beat reporters lately, that access is extremely limited. I'll do what I can, but I'll also be working on keeping up with the new haul of recruits each year.

That said, my role has obviously been pretty fluid even during my six-or-so months here. We'll see where it goes.


February 24th, 2012 at 12:15 PM ^

typically does not like to praise excessively, but I have to say, Ace, the "Chatting with (insert new member of the family here)" series has really been phenominal.  Well done.  Good interviewing, and, i suspect, good individuals who provide great responses.


February 24th, 2012 at 12:22 PM ^

Admittedly, I've always been a sucker for TEs.  To this day, Bennie Joppru is one of my favorite Wolverines, with guys like Tuman, Reimersma and even Ecker in there as well.  I've really missed that facet of football from Michigan lately. 

That said, I'm really excited for Jake Butt, he's absolutely the next great TE in that line.  He's got the size and the athleticism, and I think he'll be a major weapon for us not too far down the road.  It also sounds like he's got a great head on his shoulders.  Great fit.


February 24th, 2012 at 12:30 PM ^

I've been a faithful Wolverine fan since 1984 and have NEVER been as excited about Michigan football as I am today!!! Sucks living in Tallahassee, Florida with nobody to share my excitement with. When I share with my buddies who UM just picked up, I'm met with, "Ya, well check out who FSU got!" Grrrrr!!

Brown Bear

February 24th, 2012 at 12:35 PM ^

After reading each one of these it seems I have a new favorite future player. All seem to great kids with with great attitudes. Keep up the great work Ace! Tremendous stuff!


February 24th, 2012 at 12:48 PM ^

Excellent work Ace, the questions and flow of the interview was spot on.

The statement that stuck out for me is: "Some coaches would be really jawing at him or really angry at him for muffing it, but he just picked him up a little bit; [Hoke] said knew we were going to need him later in the game punting for us again. That attitude, you just have to respect it." This draws a stark contrast between Hoke, his staff and Brian Kelly and perhaps Dantonio as well. I can relate, my highschool head coach was like this, most of the assistants were a-holes, I played hard and progressed for the head coach.


February 24th, 2012 at 12:56 PM ^

I'll agree with you on Kelly, but Dantonio - for all his inherent douchiness - is nothing if not lenient with regards to his players' lapses.

If you know what I mean.  And I know you do.

Obviously, to be fair, he does a great job getting his players to play hard and play well for him, but... yeah.


February 24th, 2012 at 6:56 PM ^

I work with one of Jake's coaches. He speaks highly of his and Taco's character. Seems to be the binding thread with all Hoke's recruits.

This coach also speaks of Jake's desire and dedication to working on his speed.

I'm interested in checking out the 'Taco-Butt bowl' this season. Any Columbus/central Ohio folks want to join? We could have our own MgoBlog section!


February 24th, 2012 at 1:58 PM ^

About this and other interviews is the fact that all of these guys are excited about playing with Shane Morris. I wonder if the coaching staff is giving off that vibe and if so, it seems a bit premature that he is Denard's heir apparent. I seem to remember an even higher ranked QB who still has multiple years of eligibility left. Seems a bit disrespectful to Devin.


February 24th, 2012 at 1:58 PM ^

As I read that again, I think that I've been underestimating Shane Morris as the real secret weapon in the Hoke recruiting machine.  Can you imagine having such a great experience at your recruiting visit to start with, and then having Shane Morris call you and be like, "Hi, I'm one of the best QBs in the country, and we're putting together a team at Michigan that will win the National Championship in the next 3-4 years, and I want you to be part of that team."  That  would seal the deal for me.


February 24th, 2012 at 11:37 PM ^

My kids (ages 12 and 7) notice how Hoke handles his players without any prodding from me. We watch a ton of sports together, and they notice how all other coaches (like Kelly) scream bloody murder at their players. Then they see Hoke console the UM players. It makes a powerful impression on kids.